Boat Maintenance for Long Trips

Yacht on the ocean

Before you set sail on your next excursion, you need to perform some boat maintenance so that you enjoy your trip without any problems. Maintenance is essential for your peace of mind while operating the yacht and for the safety of all passengers. The larger the yacht, the more complex the maintenance, as the systems are larger and more complex.

Whether you perform DIY maintenance or hire an independent contractor, it is important to get to know your vessel’s inner workings as much as possible. Doing so can help you find quick solutions in tight situations. Be sure to ask your yacht broker or maintenance professional questions about maintenance and servicing schedules. Additionally, get familiar with the manufacturer manual, as it contains vital maintenance information. 

Clean the Yacht Before You Go 

Ideally, you should clean your yacht at least once a month. During the warmer months, you may want to clean it more frequently. A higher current area can also cause frequent growth along the hull, and more frequent cleaning may be needed. Removing barnacles and debris from the hull allows your boat to glide through the water more smoothly. The result is a more efficient performance that reduces wear on the equipment.  

If you haven’t waxed your boat in a while, you may want to add a professional wax before heading out on your trip. A wax can improve your boat’s efficiency even more as the water glides past the hull smoothly. A clean boat is a symbol of pride that everyone will appreciate once you’re out on the sea.

Check the Props 

If your props fail during your outing, your trip will be cut short. So, make sure you perform a comprehensive prop inspection. Once a boat is hauled out of the water, it is a lot easier to inspect the propellers, prop shafts, seals and zincs. It’s also a good time to get any needed repairs or maintenance done before launching your expedition. During an inspection, you need to check the following parts for wear, damage, bends or improper function: 

  • Bent or damaged propeller blades 
  • Bent prop shaft 
  • Worn bearings, seals and couplers 
  • Worn hubs 
  • Damaged seals (fishing line damage) 

It’s also a good idea to grease the prop shaft and replace any worn components such as a cotter pin or keyway, if necessary. Apply a fresh marine grease coat to the entire shaft, tightening the prop nut to manufacturer specifications.  

Full Systems Check 

Your yacht has multiple systems that need to remain functional for a pleasant yachting experience. Some of the main systems include: 

  • Air conditioning 
  • Pumps 
  • Exhaust and air intake 
  • Batteries 
  • Coolant levels 
  • Fuel and lubrication 

While some yacht owners are comfortable checking the status of some or all these systems, other owners will opt for a professional systems check. After the service is performed, the service professional will provide you with a service report summary and any recommended courses of action if there are any issues. Make sure you address all system issues before you set sail. 

Engine Inspection and Maintenance 

Ensure you bring sufficient lube oil, filters and coolant onboard your yacht. Check and stow all your spares. You can also change the engine oil and filters before departure, and the watch list items for the engine room should be established and posted in the log. An engine inspection checklist may look like this: 

  • Visually inspect both the engine and the engine room. 
  • Check the engine oil level. 
  • Check the belt tension. 
  • Visually inspect pulleys & check the alignment. 
  • Check the transmission fluid level. 
  • Make sure the alternator and water pump belts are tight. 
  • Check the coolant and antifreeze levels. 

If you need to perform a more in-depth inspection or maintenance, you may want to inspect the raw water filter, pump and impeller, clean the thru-hull, flush and clean the siphon break and inspect the heat exchanger anodes. 

Carry a Toolkit Onboard 

Boats that head offshore for long distance cruising should always be well-stocked with a proper onboard tool kit. When getting ready to load your yacht tool kit, you need around 15 essential items to help you get through almost any issue on the water. Most of the tools below can be packed into a single, soft-sided toolkit that can stay on the boat or travel with you wherever you go. At the very least, a yacht toolkit should carry the following: 

Multi-purpose tool Rigging knife Headlamp 
Tape Line and string Cable ties 
Pliers Screwdrivers Socket and wrench set 
Spare bulbs, fuses and belts Thread locking fluid Telescoping mirror and magnet 
Jumper cables Wooden plugs Mask and snorkel 

Keep your toolkit in tightly sealed rugged containers so that the tools are not constantly exposed to the outside elements. Replace any tools that are worn out. You never know when you are going to depend on them. 

Preplan Your Fueling Stops 

Preplan your fueling stops before you head out. Consider the typical mileage that your boat gets under average conditions and cruising speed, and calculate the distance that it would take to use 70% of your tank. Planning fill-ups in these areas will allow you the extra expenditures needed for bad weather, high winds or spontaneous side trips without cutting it too close. 

If a fueling station is not available within this range, choose a closer station to keep your margin of safety. The best place to refuel your pleasure craft is at your local marina here in Pensacola. Staff is aware of the precautions that must be taken and are equipped to deal with any emergencies. 

Contact Pensacola Shipyard Today 

Conveniently located on the protected waters of Bayou Chico, we are the Emerald Coast’s premier shipyard. We have everything that you need to take care of your vessel. Whether your vessel needs in-water or out of the water service, we have the boatyard capabilities and resources to get the job done.

Contact Pensacola Shipyard at 850-780-8441 to schedule service or find out more about our facilities.